## The Mathematical/Physical Act-Concept Dichotomy

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If the moment of conceptualization takes place through difference and identity, mathematic description and analysis can not take the place of computation

Now, where were we? :chin:
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Let's have a look at another example of a concept and if this doesn't get us anywhere we will throw in the towel. This paraphrased excerpt is from a book called 'Calculus and Analytic Geometry by George F. Simmons. I have added some headings, cut out a few things, and perhaps made some errors in the translation.

Hypothesis/Theorem - Concavity and Points of Inflection Based on 1st/2nd Derivatives

One of the most distinctive features of a graph is the direction in which it curves of bends... A positive second derivative, f''(x) > 0, tells us that the slope f'(x) is an increasing function of x.

This gives us a general overview of the theorem, or more generally the concept as we're calling it in it's most opposed form. This is enough as it is for some, but most textbooks will go further and demonstrate how this is the case.

Further Intuition

This means that the tangent turns counterclockwise as we move along the curve from left to right... Such a curve lies above its tangent except at the point of tangency... Similarly, if the second derivative is negative, f''(x) = 0, then the slope f'(x) is a decreasing function, and the tangent turns clockwise as we move to the right.

Here the writer demonstrates the phenomena, or 'shows' us it in action. This helps the reader to believe the notion is real and to see how it relates to past experiences or concepts, particularly the concept of the tangent and the derivative about which the reader is assumed to have some experience with.

A point across which the direction of concavity changes is called a point of inflection. If f''(x) is continuous and has opposite signs on each side of P, then it must have a zero at P itself. The search for points of inflection is mainly a matter of solving the equation f''(x)=0 and checking the direction of concavity on both sides of each root.

Here is the argument for the second concept is put in place.

3x Examples With Discussion But I Will Only Show One for Reference

(Example Function) is very easy to sketch by inspection if we notice the follow clues: it is symmetric about the y-axis because the exponent is an even number, its values are all positive, it has a maximum at x=0 because this yields the smallest denominator, and y->0 as |x|-> inf. It is therefore intuitively clear that the graph has a shape shown in fig 4.10. There are evidently two points of inflection, and the only question is, what are their precise locations? To discover this, we compute... (calculations and further discussion)

Here the author 'computes' directly the above mentioned theorem showing various easy ways to implement it. Here the 'identities' and 'differences' present in the conceptual definition are given higher precedence than its grounds; we can more closely see the relationships at play, how they could be related to other theorems and to themselves. This is borrowing some more language from Hegel.

Exceptions - Written as Three Remarks But I Will Only Show One for Reference

As we have tried to suggest in these examples, knowing that f''(x0)=0 is not enough to guarantee that x=x0 furnishes a point of inflection. We must also know that the graph is concave up on one side of x- and concave down on the other. The simplest function that shows this difficulty is y=f(x)=x^4. Here f'(x) = 4x^3 and f"(x)=12x^2, so f''(x)=0 at x=0. However, f''(x) is clearly positive on both sides of the point x=0, and therefore -- as we already know from the graph -- this point corresponds to a minimum, not a point of inflection...

This section shows us a few examples where the above stated theorem appears not to work. The author chooses to demonstrate the invalidity/error as it would appear in a solution. Note that they have left it to the reader somewhat to develop their own 'narrative' regarding why this particular case does not fit the universal mold.[/i]

This is a textbook designed for learning rather than a journal where a theorem is actually proven, but I think if you looked to those sources you might find something of a similar structure. Why choose this form of showing various examples and exceptions to the rule at work as opposed to trying to summarize the concept through more basic language?
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affect, or the fleeting minor updates of disorientation and reorientation that indeed highlight a momentary disconnect between self and world, is thus something fairly epiphenomenal rather than central. The rational structure is the ground. The affect arises to the degree we just fell out of our pragmatic state of automaticism - the feeling of being mindlessly in the flow.

Except that the changes in the flow afe precisely what affect is. That is to say , the flow or stream of consciousness consists of continuous qualitative novelty moment to moment. I am affected moment to moment differently by what I experience. There is no self on one side and the world on the other. The self is nothing other than this organism-environment interaction in which experience always matters to me, is significant to me in one way or another, and this has a ‘feel’ to it. Affective tonality is never absent from experience , regardless of whether I am having difficulty making sense of the world or not. Feeling is never mindless , it is precisely what orients and informs our sense making and logical schemes. What grounds any logic is the valuing that generates it , and values are in turn grounded affectively as qualitative feeling. There is no such thing as affect-free thought , or feeling-free reason.

By contrast, Friston's free energy model posits minimization of surprise(disorder) in pursuit of homeostasis as the normative aim of a living system in a non-equilibrium steady state, and defines autonomy on the basis of a markov blanket distinguishing between internal and external states, but these are weak notions of autonomy and normativity, in contrast to many enactivist versions. It's not surprising, then, that Friston chooses Freud's realist model ( Friston's characterization of schizophrenic disturbance as ‘false belief' indicates his realist bent) as a good realization of his neuroscientific project, given that Freud, like Friston, turns autonomy and normativity into a conglomeration of external pushes and internal pulls on a weakly integrated system. This is posited as an ‘internal' environment indirectly exposed to an outside, in classic Cartesian fashion, as Barrett express here: “ Like those ancient, mummified Egyptian pharaohs, the brain spends eternity entombed in a dark, silent box. It cannot get out and enjoy the world's marvels directly; it learns what is going on in the world only indirectly via scraps of information from the light, vibrations, and chemicals that become sights, sounds, smells, and so on.”” From your brain's point of view, locked inside the skull, your body is just another part of the world that it must explain.”

By contrast , autonomy for the enactivist isnt the property of a brain box hidden behind a markov blanket, distinguishable not only from the world but from its own body, but the autonomy of a brain-body system, whose elements cannot be separated out and for whom interaction with a world is direct rather than. indirect.

“One of the basic propositions of the enactive approach is that being autonomous is a necessary condition for a system to embody original intentionality and normativity. Sense-making is the interactional and relational side of autonomy. An autonomous system produces and sustains its own identity in precarious conditions and thereby establishes a perspective from which interactions with the world acquire a normative status. Certain interactions facilitate autonomy and other interactions degrade it. Information-processing models of the mind leave unexplained the autonomous organization proper to cognitive beings because they treat cognitive systems as heteronomous systems. These models characterize cognitive systems in terms of informational inputs and outputs instead of the operational closure of their constituent processes. As a result, they do not explain how certain processes actively generate and sustain an identity that also constitutes an intrinsically normative way of being in the world.”(Thompson)
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This paraphrased excerpt is from a book called 'Calculus and Analytic Geometry by George F. Simmons.

The late George Simmons taught at Colorado College, not far from where I live. He is a marvelous author, and his Introduction to Topology and Modern Analysis is my favorite math book. The material you quote shows how well he conveys ideas to the reader, going from a formal statement of a theorem to examples of great clarity illustrating that theorem. This is the way mathematics is taught.

What you call computing seems to be simply looking at examples - frequently involving numerical calculations - that give students a more comfortable framework for understanding concepts. Examples of this sort go hand in hand with formal theory, making the latter more palatable. There is no conflict. No pitting one approach against the other. Examples and graphical interpretations are part of heuristics. There is no "opposition".

I know nothing of Hegel and what he thought in this regard.

When I taught a senior level course in complex variables I would try to give the motivation behind theory, avoiding the strict formal proofs in favor of simplified approaches that might appeal to intuition. Now, a graduate level course in that subject is more sophisticated and entails stricter arguments. Even there it's possible to spark intuition.
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That is to say , the flow or stream of consciousness consists of continuous qualitative novelty moment to moment.

But paying attention to fluctuations is a linguistically-scaffolded and socially-constructed human practice. Animals have the same brains but lack the language code to construct a habit of self regulatory introspection.

Animals merely extrospect - live in the flow as habitually as possible with no extra duty to be accountable for every possible “affect”. Human society depends on training individuals to view as independent actors in a socialised context. And so there is this semiotic of affect where we have to give a causal explanation (or excuse) for of every response.

I hit him because I was angry/sad/mistaken/playing a game. Affect is just the currency of this cultural discourse. See Rom Harre’s The Social Construction of thr Emotions or Vygotskian psychology in general.

So for neurobiology, phenomenology is already a semiotic extra. A misunderstanding of consciousness as a process, but one that flows naturally from the socially constructed belief that all experience should be attended and reported.

Affective tonality is never absent from experience , regardless of whether I am having difficulty making sense of the world or not. Feeling is never mindless ,

That is the cultural myth, the poetic ideal. But I can drive through town without registering or feeling anything particular for long periods in regards to the world.

If you look, you will always find some affect to remark upon. But you don’t actually need to look. And indeed, attempting to be conscious and attentive of well learnt habits is the way to disrupt them and start unlearning them. You never want to be thinking of your golf swing as you are hitting the ball.

What grounds any logic is the valuing that generates it , and values are in turn grounded affectively as qualitative feeling. There is no such thing as affect-free thought , or feeling-free reason.

You are heaping on the romantic mythology. :smile: Sure, the brain has a positive match or mismatch feeling in terms of its pattern recognition. We can employ that to recognise our cat or know that we know the right answer to a problem. The neurobiology of this valuing (or orientation response) is well traversed. Certainty and doubt are very broad judgements that all brains need to make. Judgments about mathematical or logical patterns is then a socially constructed specialism built on the general foundation of a capacity for recognising successful pattern fitting.

It's not surprising, then, that Friston chooses Freud's realist model ( Friston's characterization of schizophrenic disturbance as ‘false belief' indicates his realist bent) as a good realization of his neuroscientific project, given that Freud, like Friston, turns autonomy and normativity into a conglomeration of external pushes and internal pulls on a weakly integrated system.

Hah. Well it sure as hell surprised me. I spent quite a bit of time with Friston before he formulated his Bayesian Brain story. Out of hundreds of neurobiologists at the time, he already stood out. He knew I was a savage critic of Freud as an old romantic coke head. Yet he never let on he might give the bugger a respectable nod.

By contrast , autonomy for the enactivist isnt the property of a brain box hidden behind a markov blanket, distinguishable not only from the world but from its own body, but the autonomy of a brain-body system, whose elements cannot be separated out and for whom interaction with a world is direct rather than. indirect.

I’d have to go back to what Friston wrote in that paper (I only skimmed it with averted eyes). But I don’t think he would have argued against embodied cognition. The depersonalisation and thought intrusion of schizophrenia is a classic example of how the division between self and world is a fluid and constructed boundary. The Bayesian Brain doesn’t just model the world, it models the self in the world. We can chew our food without biting off our tongue because it is all part and parcel of the modelling relation.
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The late George Simmons taught at Colorado College, not far from where I live. He is a marvelous author, and his Introduction to Topology and Modern Analysis is my favorite math book.

Wow, what a coincidence; I agree that his writing was superb. This happened to be the book that really acted as a gateway for me into Mathematics. It seems at times to give the history, essence, and practise of the topic equal weight with the memorization of formulae.

What you call computing seems to be simply looking at examples - frequently involving numerical calculations - that give students a more comfortable framework for understanding concepts. Examples of this sort go hand in hand with formal theory, making the latter more palatable. There is no conflict. No pitting one approach against the other. Examples and graphical interpretations are part of heuristics. There is no "opposition".

100% correct. And this is exactly my position in a nutshell, that computation and the concept or theorem are different but that their opposition rests on a sort of ‘grounds’ for their being so. Their meaning is denatured when reduced permanently to a real and tangible, fixed and absolute opposition. That’s part of a much more complicated idea from Hegel’s philosophy, but that wasn’t invented solely by him; we are all practically aware that this is true.

If we did in fact take the dichotomy to be real, fixed, and absolute, it would look a bit like a sort of computation that is fully a means. The concept would take the form of a sort of thing with a real existence in its place and the result would be a dogmatic form of mathematics where ideas are handed down in themselves without recourse to each other. In our minds it is closer to a type of negation that we reveal through action. I think you would find it difficult to explain why 5+5=10 simply through reasoning and theorizing alone without demonstrating any relationships, differences, or identities. Computation constitutes a form where we take the concept as most opposed to the act for a specific purpose.
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But paying attention to fluctuations is a linguistically-scaffolded and socially-constructed human practice. Animals have the same brains but lack the language code to construct a habit of self regulatory introspection.

It isn’t a question of paying attention to the changing flow via introspection When we move our head , our entire visual field changes, a d the object in front of us now appears via a changed perspective. It is not the same visual experience of the object but we consider it to be the same object because we construct a subjective abstraction according which spatial objects are self-identical entities with fixed properties and
attributes. Logic and math would be impossible without this abstraction. The exactness of math derived from the assumption of the persistent self-
identicality over time of objects. From this assumption we derive extension, duration and magnitude.

Animals also must construct abstractive idealizations so as to locate and track moving objects, but these abstractions are local and contextual. Animals dont need formal language to construe situations perceptually and cognitively. They use is a non-formal semiotics.

I hit him because I was angry/sad/mistaken/playing a game. Affect is just the currency of this cultural discourse. See Rom Harre’s The Social Construction of thr Emotions or Vygotskian psychology in general

Ive critiqued a similar view from Ken Gergen and John Shotter. Before I am shaped by social interaction in linguistic contexts , I am already shaped in a more immediate and intimate manner by time itself. That is , every aspect of my previous history is exposed to an outside and transformed in a subtle way moment to moment , prior to interchange with others. I am already other than myself moment to moment , but in such a way that a thread of
pragmatic continuity characterizes my changing self.
It may appear that I am simply my socially constructed habits, but every ‘habit’ that structure me is subtly transforms i it’s sense, role and meaning
every new moment of experience.

In other words , the social begins not with exposure to other persons , but in temporal experience moment to moment. When I am engaged in contact with other persons , the way that I interpret that interaction and the linguistic senses of words and phrases and gestures and norms is unique to me. The same is true of every participant i. the ‘same’ interchange. It is the same differently for each of them, but such a difference is subtle enough as to go unnoticed.

l
t I can drive through town without registering or feeling anything particular for long periods in regards to the world.

If you are awake during your drive you are always , every moment , experiencing new and differentiated perceptions and cognitions of one sort or another. If I rode next to you and ask you every ten minutes or five
minutes or two minutes what you were just experiencing you would report something new. And every new experience is a change in how you are being affected by your world in some qualitative fashion( affective tonality, attitude, motivation).

I am curious as to your take on Andy Clark. He has made an effort to distance himself from the computational representationalism that characterizes writers like Barrett and Friston. So you support his efforts? I’d also love your response to Dan Zahavi’s phenomenological critique of what he calls the neo-Kantian tendencies of at least some predictive processing models.

It’s interesting to me that you consider philosophies which treat affectivity and temporal transformation as primary to be exemplars of a romantic idealism. Since
that group includes not only the phenomenologists but also social constructionists like Shotter and Gergen, Heidegger and poststructuralist authors such as Foucault , Deleuze and Derrida, I assume you consider all of these as romantics?
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What are you talking about? Constructivism is just the standard social science position. It’s well founded in theory and evidence.

Constructivism for social science is one thing.. Constructivism (or a form of it) for an answer to what experience is, metaphysically, is another. You always seem to go back to "Well what is a color?" thing. A complex cause for something is not the thing itself that is happening. The color red can be any number of descriptive phenomena, but the experience is another thing. Is causal relations the metaphysical phenomena only for you?
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And this is exactly my position in a nutshell

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It isn’t a question of paying attention to the changing flow via introspection When we move our head , our entire visual field changes, a d the object in front of us now appears via a changed perspective.

Isn’t that my point? We don’t even notice saccades as that is noise habitually filtered out. It is already expected from reafference. If the world spins and jerks, we already predict that as a consequence of motor planning. And that then generalises the phenomenology to the point of being selves moving our heads within a fixed external world.

Logic and math would be impossible without this abstraction. The exactness of math derived from the assumption of the persistent self-
identicality over time of objects. From this assumption we derive extension, duration and magnitude.

Yes. Generalisation or habits of interpretation are at the basis of semiosis as a way of bringing organisation to confusion or uncertainty. So that starts with genetic and neural abstraction and continues on to human word-based social abstraction and then human number-based technological abstraction. Same thing moving increasingly towards its ultimate Platonic extreme.

In other words , the social begins not with exposure to other persons , but in temporal experience moment to moment. When I am engaged in contact with other persons , the way that I interpret that interaction and the linguistic senses of words and phrases and gestures and norms is unique to me.

Well yes. Social semiosis is founded on neurosemiosis. The habits of linguistic self consciousness are founded on the habits of organismic consciousness.

We are embodied selves that then learn the extra displacing trick of thinking about ourselves in a rationalising disembodied way.

I am curious as to your take on Andy Clark. He has made an effort to distance himself from the computational representationalism that characterizes writers like Barrett and Friston. So you support his efforts?

I felt he was re-inventing the Vygotskisn wheel. But I also supported him in bringing the constructionist model to a wider audience - the mind science crowd.

It’s interesting to me that you consider philosophies which treat affectivity and temporal transformation as primary to be exemplars of a romantic idealism. Since
that group includes not only the phenomenologists but also social constructionists like Shotter and Gergen, Heidegger and poststructuralist authors such as Foucault , Deleuze and Derrida, I assume you consider all of these as romantics?

As I argued in response to the OP, the analysis of all phenomena breaks naturally into a dichotomy of the local and the global, the particular and the general, the discrete and the continuous - the many ways of talking about a hierarchical systems causality.

So the connection is much deeper. Any time humans have to reason about anything, they will arrive as this generalised kind of opposition.

If the enlightenment was all about global general laws or principles - Peirce’s synechism - then romanticism was all about is other of local exceptionalism and independent free choice. Or Peirce’s tychism.

So in the same way, a concern with tychic affect as “other” to synecectic habit, or the temporality of located events vs spaciality of concrete structure, are cultural oppositions that derive from discovering that analysis always results in a dialectical choice.

My criticism is not with the oppositions themselves but with the failure to see through to their triadic synthesis. That is why I push the systems view and Peirce.

I’d also love your response to Dan Zahavi’s phenomenological critique of what he calls the neo-Kantian tendencies of at least some predictive processing models.

Just skimming the introduction I see the mistake is in thinking that the task is to predict our perceptions rather than the effect of our actions on the world. So the representationalism stays baked in to those who might think that way about neurobiology. His target is Frith and Metzinger - both of whom failed to impress me in this area.

So my approach - a Peircean semiotic one - is that cognition makes no sense except to the degree it is a material engagement with the world. Our internal representation is an umwelt or an experiencing of the opportunities for meaningful actions. If I see a door knob, my hand is already prepared to grasp and operate it.

So the kind of thing folk were talking about in the 1990s as affordances or deictic coding. Or even back in the cybernetic 1950s with perceptual control theory. Nothing is ever new under the sun.

This is why I stress that our reportable phenomenological experience is all about a semiotic modelling relation that is not merely a model of the world, but a model of ourselves as a free agent standing in contrast to the brute constraints the world might wish to impose.

And then, I stress how even to frame consciousness in terms of reportable phenomena and temporal experiential flows is to bake in the Cartesian representationalism we want to avoid. We want to understand consciousness and selfhood in terms of a collection of well-adapted action habits.

Representationalism makes us passive observers of a world that …. we have internally constructed … for some weird reason no one can explain.

A triadic modellling relation instead is all about how brains are tied into their worlds in real-time by non-stop choices about opportunities and actions.

Representationalism starts with a dark screen and demands it be painted with some particular image. Semiosis starts with the unbound possibility of Firstness and thus sets the opposite problem of how to be able to constrain that overwhelming variety - the blooming, buzzing, confusion - to some focused and rational plan of immediate action.

That is why phenomenology starts on the wrong foot. Representationalism still lurks. The foundational issues haven’t been addressed. To talk of the quality of experience rather than the quantity of information (Friston’s free energy) that can be dissipated, is to show which paradigm still truly has you in its grip.
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You always seem to go back to "Well what is a color?" thing.

It is those who argue against physicalism that keep bringing up colour experience as their best case. I’m just happy to take on anyone’s best argument.
A complex cause for something is not the thing itself that is happening.

Monism is simple. Dualism is a simplicity compounded by a simplicity. It is only with a trichotomous causality that you arrive at actual irreducible complexity worth talking about.
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I felt he [Andy Clark] was re-inventing the Vygotskisn wheel. But I also supported him in bringing the constructionist model to a wider audience - the mind science crowd.

Out of curiosity, did you know my old high school friend Zach Hall? He created a department of neurobiology at UCSF in the 1970s.
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did you know my old high school friend Zach Hall?

Never heard of him. :smile:

Checking his publications I see that he was focused down at the molecular biology end and my interest was all at the general systems level. So that’s not such a surprise.
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So the kind of thing folk were talking about in the 1990s as affordances or deictic coding. Or even back in the cybernetic 1950s with perceptual control theory. Nothing is ever new under the sun.

Or even back in 1927 (Being and Time).
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Representationalism makes us passive observers of a world that …. we have internally constructed … for some weird reason no one can explain.

Representationalism starts with a dark screen and demands it be painted with some particular image.

Semiosis starts with the unbound possibility of Firstness and thus sets the opposite problem of how to be able to constrain that overwhelming variety - the blooming, buzzing, confusion - to some focused and rational plan of immediate action.

Let me give you what I think is an example of representationalism and you let me know if it is consistent with your understanding. Beck's cognitive therapy and Ellis' rational emotive therapy exemplify the oppositional relationship between a rationalist interpretive template and an assumed independently existing reality that commandeers that schematics. The image produced is one of the person standing back and placing interpretations on events in the world rather as they may sort objects, by mechanistically applying a pre-existing program.

This scheme is oppositional; the outside world is at a remove from the cognizing subject, whose internal representations are not in immediate and direct contact with that outside. When am internal representation is invalidated, it is by an ‘external’ reality that has nothing in it that is contributed or constrained by the subjective model.

Gene Gendlin critiques the representational
view of perception from a phenomenological vantage:

“ The currently underlying conceptual system leads us to assume that what exists is always something that can be presented before us. So there are always two, what exists and also us, the before whom. Contact with anything real is assumed to be by perception. Perception (or even more narrowly, sensation) is supposed to be the beginning. Perception involves a split between a here and a there. We sense here what is over there. Perception involves an inside and an outside; we sense in here in the body what is out there, outside, ‘external’ to us. I call this the ‘perceptual
split’. The here-there generates a gap, the space between the here and the there. This space is supposed to contain everything that exists. To ‘exist’ means to fill some part of that ‘external’ space. Only the ‘out there’ is supposed to exist. What exists is considered cut off from any other living process because perceiving is the basic starting process. But being perceived is not supposed to affect real things. They are conceptualized as inherently cut-off from living process. To be real
they need only to fill the perceptual gap space.”

In the phenomenological approaches that I endorse, there is not a subject that reproduces anything from an outside. There has not first been an original external ‘production’ from a real world and then an image or copy or model of it generated by a subject. There is in fact no subject to speak of except as a pole or a zero
point for actions. This zero point implies a functionally integral past history that implies into what occurs, and what occurs protends beyond itself. Am I talking about a representational scheme when I refer to this integral history? No. First of all , this history ( we could call it body memory if you like) has no existence apart from or outside of what is occurring into it. Secondly, this implicit intricacy is changed as whole in its function, sense and meaning by the occurring which it implies into. There is no static memory, no reified schemes. To occur is to change a set of remembered relationships that are themselves the manifestation of precious changes is relationships. The concept of a static , self-inhering ‘object’ is a very high order abstraction. It is nowhere to be found in the fundamental workings of experience. What is to prevent such a system from seeing the world as nothing but a chaotic blooming buzzing confusion? Because the organism is radically implicative, anticipative. It is wholly oriented toward anticipating the replicative aspects of events( not duplicative; experience never doubles back on itself). It isn’t set this way by some internal gyroscope or other rationalist grounding.

To talk of the quality of experience rather than the quantity of information (Friston’s free energy) that can be dissipated, is to show which paradigm still truly has you in its grip.

Talking of the quantity of anything is to start from an entity that is presumed to have a countable aspect to it.

What does it imply to make a measurement, to state that it takes certain amount of time for some process to unfold? A time calculation counts identical instances of a meaning whose sense is kept fixed during the counting.
Where does this idea that there is anything fixed to base a counting on originate? As I said before , it comes from our idealizing of experience from which we produce the abstraction of what you called ‘real’ time , which Heidegger calls the vulgar or everyday concept of time, the model of time as an infinite series of now points. Events occur IN time according to this thinking because time is considered as an empty form just as the objects ( or aspects of objects) that it counts are assumed as ideally self-identical.

The concept of quantity is a qualitative idealization, a covering over of the relevant pragmatic meaning and significance of an experience by restricting ourselves to staring at it as an inert self-identical pattern, scheme, entity, object , ‘firstness’ that is measurable and calculable.

Quality by itself has no place in phenomenology. It is differences in and relations between qualities that are key. In fact, the hallmark of this thinking is that qualitative content in itself is of little importance for the understanding of the nature of experiencing and its various levels of constitution. Affect isnt some intention-free surge or energy. It is none other than the moment to moment fluctuations in organizational integrity and coherence of the organism-environment system. Im fact , my favorite writers abandon the tripartite distinction between affect, cognition and action. By rethinking what would be modeled as qualitative inherence ( Pierce’s firstness, Friston’s physiological quantitatively measurable qualities) as intricately relational movement and transformation , phenomenology offers what is at the same time amore immediately mobile and transformative , and more ordered and intricately relational depiction of experience.
I ask you what sits there relatively immobile in your system and you mention automatic subpersonal processes, measurable quantities , fixed habits. You ask me what sits there relatively unchanged in my model and my answer is a absolutely nothing. And let me make clear what I mean by ‘change’. I don’t simply mean the rearrangement of subordinate elements within a superordinate scheme that does not itself change along with its elements. Put differently, in my approach every moment of experienced time , for every person ( and animal ) not only is utterly new in the world , but occurs into a past which , by being paired with what it occurs into , is an utterly new past.

The challenge of understanding the phenomenologies I endorse is seeing how such a radically change and difference oriented thinking allows us to experience stably anticipatable themes in the world , and to do so progressively more effectively.

You might fear that throwing about such terms as quality, affect, change and temporality leads us into the dead-end of the ineffable and subjective, that it opposes the key strength of science, its ability to carve out order and predictability from the apparently inaccessible and inner. But the aim of science and philosophy was never a choice between the qualitative and the quantitative, especially since the quantitative is itself a species of the qualitative. The challenge is to uncover ( or better yet, produce ) the intimacy and order within the process of time and qualitative affective change.

]
a concern with tychic affect as “other” to synecectic habit, or the temporality of located events vs spaciality of concrete structure, are cultural oppositions that derive from discovering that analysis always results in a dialectical choice.

I don’t see tychic affect and synecectic habit as ends of a dialectic choice but as both presupposed in each moment of experience , as inseparable aspects of the same event. If I understand it correct, Tychism as Peirce understands is rejected by phenomenology
since what occurs happens into to an implying , a projecting forward. Thus no experience can ever be a complete surprise , but is anticipated and recognized at some level.

We want to understand consciousness and selfhood in terms of a collection of well-adapted action habits.

Via what sort of causation is one part of this collection of habits related to other parts? Is a habit experienced as relavant and mattering to me or is it devoid of meaningful
sense?
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The image produced is one of the person standing back and placing interpretations on events in the world rather as they may sort objects, by mechanistically applying a pre-existing program.

So note how this places perception as after the fact. The world happens. The brain processes it’s sensory inputs. Some state of sensation leads on to a plan of action. Somehow a selfhood - a coherent running point of view - is imposed on the brain’s data crunching.

But the brain is set up to predict its world. This prediction involves two levels - habits or automaticisms, and then attentional level processes. Habits take about a fifth of a second to emit, and attention takes about half second. One is a quick filter because the brain has a prepared local routine, the other is slow as it requires a global reorientation of the brain’s state.

This matters as it explains the temporal nature of experience and highlights that the priority is habit and thoughtless action.

To return a tennis serve demands well drilled habit that can be primed by anticipation of the future location of the ball and the thoughtless movement of the body and racquet before the ball has got there. If the ball takes a bad bounce, even habit needs about 200ms to make an adjustment. Attention lags 500ms behind as it must reconcile a failure of expectation with a memory of what actually happened, and so set the scene for a new anticipatory state. The brain is already adjusting its odds predictor for the next serve, while also prompting the player to gesture unhappily at the poorly maintained court surface as a public explanation of a failure to connect cleanly.

So this is embodiment. It is all about a coordination of a self and a world. It starts with some general set of habits plus some specific state of anticipation - a mix of learnt reactions and whatever plans and intentions resulted from the last attentional reorientation. Then set up to act, we react as thoughtlessly as possible. If something surprising happens, attention deals with the reorientation. But the key is arriving at some new and updated state of self-world relation. Attention isn’t delivering a passive representation. It is itself the generation of a better state of adaptation, intention and preparedness.

And note further that self and the world are two synchronised halves of this relation. A bouncing ball and a swinging racquet are tied together - as physics and information - by the continuity of an intention. The world is being defined as a place where anything could materially happen. The self is a constraint placed on what should ideally happen. The ego is not there to witness an internal display or appearances or impressions. The self is simply the forging of a constantly updating point of view.

If our collection of habits worked, then attention was unneeded and we don’t have to change, remember or add anything . The collection of habits is held stable. But to the degree we were surprised or the tiniest bit out in our automatic response, then there was something to learn and alter.

By the way, the neural networker who got all this back in the 1960s was Stephen Grossberg - the adaptive resonance theory (ART) guy. He realised that memory based processing had the basic problem of a plasticity-stability dilemma. Either it would be too stable to learn, or too good at updating and so prone to catastrophic forgetting.

For this reason, brains would have to divide the load and dichotomise as I describe. It would have to go in one direction and form an extremely enduring level of stereotyped habits, then go just the far the other way in having the complete flexibility of a roving spotlight of attention which treated every moment as something surprising and new.

Perception involves a split between a here and a there. We sense here what is over there. Perception involves an inside and an outside; we sense in here in the body what is out there, outside, ‘external’ to us. I call this the ‘perceptual split’. The here-there generates a gap, the space between the here and the there. This space is supposed to contain everything that exists.

So here you have the usual mode of thought where someone is already winding up to reject one pole of a dichotomy by jumping to its other. But the brain itself has to have an architecture that gives voice to both sides of a dichotomy. It needs both the stability of habits and the lability of attention. And it needs different circuits (prefrontal vs striatum) so as to really push both complementary modes of processing.

In the same way, we wind up feeling both extremely in the flow of an embodied self-world relation, and then at times completely detached or disorientated. One kind of self goes with thoughtless habit, the other with a sharp crisis of attentional reorientation. (Was that really the shadow of a burglar at the window? Or am I a silly bugger who imagines things?)

Academia organises itself to find dichotomies and set up opposing camps of thought. But if the dichotomy is a meaningful one, then both views must be right as they form the two bounding extremes of the one complementary relation.

The concept of a static , self-inhering ‘object’ is a very high order abstraction. It is nowhere to be found in the fundamental workings of experience. What is to prevent such a system from seeing the world as nothing but a chaotic blooming buzzing confusion? Because the organism is radically implicative, anticipative. It is wholly oriented toward anticipating the replicative aspects of events( not duplicative; experience never doubles back on itself). It isn’t set this way by some internal gyroscope or other rationalist grounding.

So if I say stable habits, you say plastic experience. We have opposing arguments and that is what is culturally expected of us.

But neurobiology tells us that establishing a critical balance between both is what it is about. In terms of selfhood, the contrast is between the world ignoring selfishness of our set of static habits and our world dominated self that becomes reduced to the role of the constantly startled passive spectator of a parade of imposed percepts.

Both are true of the selves that we are. We couldn’t be plastic without having stability as our backdrop. And we couldn’t have a stable set of habits unless there was an attentional machinery to learn some lesson from every error of prediction - every moment where the self-world dichotomy didn’t flow quite as easily as it could.

Talking of the quantity of anything is to start from an entity that is presumed to have a countable aspect to it.

Again, here you are winding up to reject the other end of the very dichotomy that you would wish to make your stand on. It is like sitting on the branch you are trying to saw.

Think of a dichotomy in its mathematical guise - a reciprocal relation. We can speak about quality to the degree it ain’t quantity, and vice versa. Quality is 1/quantity, and quantity is 1/quality. They can be a dichotomy - mutually exclusive/jointly exhaustive - because each is the dialectical measure of its “other”.

So you reject a claim of quantification as it plainly means the exact opposite of a quale or ineffable essence. Or whatever kind of Firstness you have in mind.

My reply is if it is indeed exactly opposite, that makes it the other half of the same story. There only is a story as it had two polar extremes to place bookending limits on vague possibility (or actual logical Firstness in the Peircean scheme).

The concept of quantity is a qualitative idealization, a covering over of the relevant pragmatic meaning and significance of an experience by restricting ourselves to staring at it as a dead, self-identical pattern, scheme, entity, object , ‘firstness’ that is measurable and calculable.

Yes, let’s heap harsh words on the grave of this dead concept. Let’s ignore the dialectical fact that quality can only exist as something definite, and not vague, to the degree it is not what we could mean by quantity. And therefore our concept of quality proves to depend entirely on that of quantity.

The task for neurobiology is to cash out phenomenology as best it can in physicalist terms. And Friston’s neat trick was to quantify a quality like surprise - a central quality for the habit-attention reasons I explained - and use the maths of thermodynamics to construct a testable, measurable, model from that. Surprisal - a feeling - becomes quantified as physical degrees of freedom. And so a sturdy bridge is built between two modes of human discourse,

I ask you what sits there relatively immobile in your system and you mention automatic subpersonal processes, measurable quantities , fixed habits. You ask me what sits there relatively unchanged in my model and my answer is a absolutely nothing.

My approach deals with stability and plasticity as the two poles of the same spectrum. And a good outcome is a system which can go to the extreme in both directions in response to the demands placed upon it.

Put differently, in my approach every moment of experienced time , for every person ( and animal ) not only is utterly new in the world , but occurs into a past which , by being paired with what it occurs into , is an utterly new past.

But memory is already anticipation - a constraint on future action. Every passing psychological moment of time is part forecast, past retrospective account, that together serve to trap the “thing in itself” of the perception in space in between.

See…..

https://researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10289/9037/NZAP%28Dec2014%29.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y

And Legg is a good source on enactivism qua Peirce…

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350088688_Discursive_Habits_Peirce_and_Cognitive_Semiotics

The challenge of understanding the phenomenologies I endorse is seeing how such a radically change and difference oriented thinking allows us to experience stably anticipatable themes in the world , and to do so progressively more effectively

The self is the stable centre that can thus be the launch pad of unlimited instability. The common origin of infinite degrees of freedom. Or at least that is the modern cultural version of the self we intend to construct via philosophical positions like phenomenology.

And it is even true that this romantic fiction is pragmatically effective. It’s been working for Western civilisation since the Greek hoplites beat off the Persian hordes.
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